You are here: Home / Blog / Teaching & Schools / Is Constructivism "A Pedagogy of Privilege"? (and PS can it be defined)?

Doug Lemov's field notes

Reflections on teaching, literacy, coaching, and practice.

07.26.13Is Constructivism “A Pedagogy of Privilege”? (and PS can it be defined)?

I thought this piece by Paul Bruno was thought-provoking.  I’m sure it’ll make some folks mad but PB’s take is pretty balanced and you don’t have to agree to let it push your thinking. 

In it the author reflects on research that suggests that Special Education designations may be increased by constructivist approaches to teaching. 

Here’s one passage

Minimally-guided instruction – the kind often favored by constructivists – appears to be less effective than more-guided instruction generally, especially for weaker students (i.e., those who probably already have a history of failure in school). Moreover, research focusing specifically on students with learning disabilities is especially clear on the virtues of guided instruction for students in SPED programs.

In many ways constructivism is a pedagogy of privilege: perhaps adequate for strong students, but often inadequate for – and unfair to – less fortunate students who have not yet acquired the social, behavioral, and academic knowledge and skills that allow them to be successful without additional guidance from a teacher.

To be fair, the author then disagrees that there’s a connection to SPED designation rates if only because what is and is not constructivism is so hard to define and can mean so many things, which is another good point.

All around it’s worthwhile to read.


Coda: After reading this I started to ask myself, just who is this Paul Bruno, yet another guy everybody has heard of who I don’t know?  Anyway it turns out he’s a science teacher who occasionally blogs for Alexander Russo.  Just your average front line guy with a lot of insight and knowledge.  Here’s another of his blogs if you’re interested.